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Google Panda Update: Content + Design = Usable, trustworthy websites

Google Panda Update:  Content + Design = Usable, trustworthy websites

I stole the headline “Content + Design = Usable, trustworthy websites” from Chris Trude‘s comment in a thread by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. Derek wrote a great post, where he talks about a study in which people were asked to search and then record if they trusted or distrusted the sites they found… and if they distrusted those sites, why did they distrust the site? …and they found that Design was 94% of the problem.

In a post Panda world, there’s a possibility that if people quickly leave your site, it could be biting you in the ass…. most people will make a decision to read a page or not in 1-6 seconds (depending on what stat report you read)…but keep in mind that people decide whether or not to read your page very quickly…and there’s a chance that if they leave your site quickly it could send a very bad negative signal to Google about your page.

If the design loses trust, your content doesn’t matter (If I see a great page with kontara ads, I lose all trust…if I come to page with Google adsense all over it, I’m not going to trust it….if I’m going to spend money, it must meet my own “company trust” level…and even if I don’t know you, your design is my impression of you….).

And yes, if you design is “friendly” and “trustworthy”, then I’ll start reading….but if the content sucks, I’ll still leave…but with poor design, people will never even give your content a chance.

So, in the original post I was referring to, Derek gives some really nice design tips to help gain trust in your site….and so far there are also 81 comments with several gems in the comments as well.

Some of Derek’s tips include:

Cluttered, busy layouts (Less options, higher conversions)
(See the header removal test)
Boring web design
(Yes, this one is aesthetic)
Slow load times
(People are impatient online)
Small fonts
(Size 14 is the new size 12, after all)
Too much text
(Take this with a grain of salt. Big blocks of text is probably what they meant)
Corporate Look and Feel
(Another aesthetic comment. Corporations have it tough, eh?)


So far there are 81 comments…a lot of the comments are great…but I, personally, picked out 7 comments worth mentioning…..and thoughts worth thinking….

The real issue is not whether content is king, but whether the king is properly dressed. Mitchell Allen

Being a writer, I always thought, “It doesn’t matter how ‘pretty’ my site is, as long as the content delivers, I’m golden.” Recently, I did a site overhaul and the results from cosmetic changes where shocking. I went from a 70% bounce rate to 42% by adding a more vibrant, “cool” looking header. Adam

Makes me think of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, in which he uncovers the importance & amazing accuracy of our snap, first second judgments. Kevin Rains

But don’t forget the headline! That’s immediately viewable and is part of both design and content. In a way, it’s perceived as 2 things–what you see and what you think about. And if you’ve got good content, that’ll take it from there, as you said. Jan Schochet

Anyway, I’ve been a web designer for 10 years and completely agree with your comments about design. Content simplicity, meaning using short paragraphs, is a part of design, too. If people go to a site and see large chunks of content they’ll feel overwhelmed and may skip reading anything, regardless of how well it’s written. Headers and subheaders are not just there to make content easier to read – it looks better, too.   Amy

Content + Design = Usable, trustworthy websites. It’s a symbiotic relationship, neither is more important. Chris Trude


In a Post-Panda world, your design can be as important as the words that you use…and doing SEO on a site with poor design, with poorly written words…is like clapping with one hand….

I certainly don’t want to hijack Derek’s thread, so I’m going to turn off my comments here…so if you have other great ideas along this line, please add them on his post. (which was up to 81 comments when I read it now)…..there’s another post that I want to follow this up with all about 1 other comment in that thread…but I’m going to dinner now.

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